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Portrait of Sir Robert Peel, 2nd Baronet

George Baxter

The sitter, Sir Robert Peel, 2nd Baronet, is Bury’s most famous son.

He was born at Chamber Hall (now demolished) in Bury in 1788, where he lived until the age of 9. He attended Bury Grammar School for a time before going on to finish his education at Harrow and finally Christ Church, Oxford. 

He entered politics in 1809 at the age of 21, becoming MP for the Irish borough of Cashel in Tipperary where he was elected unopposed. He went on to become Prime Minister on two occasions; from December 1834 to April 1835, and also from August 1841 to June 1846.

The major achievement of his second administration was the repeal of the Corn Laws. As Home Secretary, Peel also helped to create the modern concept of the police force, successfully steering the Metropolitan Police Act through Parliament in 1829. This led to officers being known as “Bobbies” (in England) and “Peelers” (in Northern Ireland). He died in 1850 after having been thrown from his horse on Constitution Hill.

There is a bronze statue by Edward Hodges Baily erected to his memory in the Market Place.